At yesterday's annual meeting of the Oregon Bird Records Committee, we voted unanimously and almost so to put Least Bittern and Upland Sandpiper onto the committee's "review list."
Least Bittern, was initially on the review list when the committee was formed in 1978, but was then removed in 1984 in the wake of somewhat regular reports from the Upper Klamath Lake canoe trail, Malheur NWR and other marshes in southeastern Oregon. Over the ensuing 30+ years Least Bittern has rarely been reported in Oregon. There are only three post-1984 records in the eBird database. Perhaps this species persists as a rare summer resident/breeder in the state, but the paucity of recent reports suggests otherwise.
Upland Sandpiper has never been on the state review list, as it was an established low density breeder in several lush valleys in southern Grant County. During the 1970s, 80's and early 90's Upland Sandpipers could be reliably found during the nesting season in Bear and Logan Valleys and at a couple other sites between John Day and Burns. They were presumed to be breeding there and maintaining a modest self-sustaining population. Starting in the early 2000s they gradually became more and more difficult to find and there have been no reports from this area for at least a decade. Migrant Upland Sandpipers are still occasionally seen elsewhere in Oregon, but their rate of detection is now less frequent than a number of species that are on the review list (i.e. Hudsonian Godwit).
The committee feels strongly that we should be collecting and reviewing reports of these two species and encourages those in the Oregon birding community to search for them when in appropriate habitat. If you have observed either of these species in Oregon any time over the last decade, we encourage you to submit your sightings to the OBRC.
Another continuing issue is the scarcity of written reports that we receive even for stakeout rarities that are seen by many observers. Written documentation that includes the exact date and location where the bird was seen and a good description of the bird's appearance and behavior are of great value even when readily identifiable photos have been obtained and submitted. Thus far, two of Oregon's most visited rarities of this winter (Virginia's Warbler and Steller's Eider) have only been written up by a few observers even though hundreds of birders saw these birds.
A complete checklist of birds documented in Oregon can be found at the OBRC website (link below) with all birds showing asterisks being review list species.